I've certainly had my fair share of opinions on Josh Gordon over the years, all of which I stand behind:
- He put out questionable effort on the practice field and behind the scenes when he was a member of the Cleveland Browns;
- The Patriots were so inept at the position -- and had failed in a number of different attempts to stock the position over the offseason -- their desperation at the spot caused them to bring in Gordon, a move they normally would not have entertained (and had turned down in previous years for that same reason — they weren't that desperate);
- Bringing in one of the least dependable players in NFL history put the team at risk if he was suspended again before the end of the season;
- He was good with the Patriots, but that doesn't mean he was the right move. When you go from nothing to something ... a lot of players could have filled that role and been productive. It's similar to the Sony Michel situation: Sure, he was productive. But any number of players would have had the same level of production, if given the chance. Just because Player X got the job done, it doesn't mean Player X was the reason. They were just in the right place at the right time.
Gordon's suspension certainly put the team at risk. New England was just fortunate its defense won the Super Bowl over an overmatched Jared Goff and Sean McVay by allowing just three points. If the Patriots would have succumbed, say, 17-13, then the Gordon move would have been under the microscope.
But all that, by now, is history. New England has won its sixth Super Bowl title and heads into the offseason looking to retool for another title run.
Obviously, the receiver position is an area of concern. Julian Edelman is the only experienced receiver under contract. Braxton Berrios, Cody Hollister, Damoun Patterson and Darren Andrews are also in the fold, but they have no NFL experience.
Since the season has been over, I've been on the record as stating the Patriots need to just move on from Gordon. Are they really going to go through with that again? The Steve Howe of football is always one stumble away from being suspended for the rest of his career. The Patriots gave it their best shot with Gordon, it didn't work out, and they were fortunate it didn't ultimately hurt them. So let's all just move along.
But as I've been crunching the numbers for the next installment of the Grading the Patriots series, I keep coming back to one thought in regards to Gordon and next season: If you're the Patriots, why wouldn't you welcome back Gordon?
Let's break it down: